The Arabian Oryx is a medium-sized antelope weighing 65 - 75 kg (140 - 170 lb). Prior to its extinction in the wild, it is believed to have occurred in flat and undulating gravel plains intersected by shallow wadis and depressions, and the dunes edging sand deserts, with a diverse vegetation of trees, shrubs, herbs, and grasses. The Arabian oryx eats mainly grasses. Herbs, seedpods, fruit, fresh growth of trees, tubers and roots also form part of its diet. It can go for weeks without drinking water. The Arabian Oryx apparently digs shallow depressions in soft ground under trees and shrubs for resting.
The Arabian oryx lives in nomadic herds that follow the rare rains, and it is able to utilize effectively the fresh plant growth that occurs after a rainfall. The normal group size is 8 - 20 animals, but herds of up to 100 have been reported. A herd contains all ages and both sexes. Such herds probably stay together for a considerable time. Oryx are very compatible with one another - the low frequency of aggressive interactions allows animals to share scattered shade trees under which they may spend 8 of the daylight hours in the summer heat.
Around 1800 the Arabian oryx was thought to have occurred over most of the Arabian Peninsula (which includes modern Israel, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, portions of Egypt (Sinai Peninsula), Saudi Arabia, Oman, Yemen, United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Kuwait and Qatar). By 1970 it was found only in the southeastern regions of the Rub' al Khali desert on the Arabian Peninsula. The last one in the wild was shot in 1972. Animals raised in captive populations were re-introduced into the wild in Oman in 1982. Additional re-introduced populations now occur in Bahrain, Israel and Saudi Arabia, with a total reintroduced population in the wild of approximately 886 in 2003.
The main cause of the extinction of the Arabian oryx in the wild was overhunting, both hunting by Bedouin for meat and hides as well as sport hunting by...